Category Olive’s Harvest of Friends

Bucket List Job: Carl Laidlaw Orchards

Since I will probably never live on a farm, the next best thing just might be working on one. I recently had the privilege of working at Carl Laidlaw Orchards during their apple harvest. On such an exceptionally beautiful farm, the job perks were bountiful.


Photo contributed by Laura Kelly.

Best bosses ever. Mark and Laura. I think anyone who knows Mark and Laura – from employees to farm guests to family and friends – would agree they are such sunny-souled, kind-hearted people.


Laura and her sunflowers.


Mark in his orchard.

Awesome staff. Supportive and so fun to work with. Sorry to miss the farm dinner. Nice working with you all.


Top quality, farm-to-table products. Pick your own apples and pears. If you think you don’t like apples, you haven’t tasted a ripe, juicy apple plucked from a Carl Laidlaw Orchards tree.


As the season progressed, I snacked on a different variety of apple every week, each with its own unique characteristics; the flavours and textures were brilliant. How can I go back to boring, red delicious grocery store apples, now that the season is over?


Freshly picked corn, squash, pumpkins. Aren’t these ghost pumpkins adorable?


Freshly baked pies and gorgeous, gourmet flatbreads.

Pretty candy apples. Artisanal jams, salsas, mustards, and honey, including Mark and Laura’s very own small-batch honey produced from hives right on their farm. Heaven for a foodie like me. Nothing like selling a product you love and then coming home with it.

Laidlaw Honey

Enjoyable tasks. Chatting with the customers as I checked them out. Teaching them what Mark and Laura taught me about the apples. Getting hugs from our happy, wee visitors.

Spending the day making candy apples. Just call me the bee whisperer – the friendly little chaps thankfully found the candy sweeter than me (we gave them a taste of their own).

Picturesque space. Charmingly nostalgic thanks to Laura’s ultra creative touch. Described on instagram as “if Kate Spade opened an apple orchard”.

I loved working in the barn – every corner was picture perfect. With the doors wide open on both ends of the building, I was protected from the elements but felt like I was in fresh air all day long.

Breathtaking surrounding. Stunning orchards rolling down to the scenic Credit River.


Photo contributed by Laura Kelly.

Best commute. Through farmland accented with cricket’s song.

Hard to pick what I loved best about my job. Maybe the terrific customers, whose love of the farm brings them back year after year, and whom Laura and Mark greet with a warm farm hug like they are part of the farm family.

And so, for those of you who scratched their heads when I said I was working on a farm, now you know. What a pleasure it was to work at Carl Laidlaw Orchards. The harvest is over for this year. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to visit next season. Follow Laura’s blog for updates (

Thank you, Mark and Laura. Warm farm hugs to you too, and Spencer and Margo. xxxx Olive.

Read More

An Apple a Day: Local Apple Season Has Begun

Have you got a hankering for cinnamon-scented apple crisp (recipe here), served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream?

Mom's Apple Crisp

Mom’s Apple Crisp

Maybe a slice of cheddar cheese and homemade apple pie (recipe here), piled high with juicy apples in a flaky crust?


Mark’s Apple Orchard Pie * Photo: Laura Kelly, Carl Laidlaw Orchards

Leaning toward something on the savoury side? How about a steaming bowl of apple squash soup (recipe here)?


Laura’s Apple Squash Soup, Carl Laidlaw Orchards

or honey-drizzled apple and cheese tartine (recipe here) to enjoy with a glass of wine?

Eleonora Gattesco Roberts

Fall Fruit & Cheese Tartine with Honey Drizzle * Photo: Eleonora Gattesco Roberts

Perhaps, after all that summer indulging, you just want to sink your teeth in a freshly-picked, crisp apple.


Local apple season has begun! Gather up your family and friends and visit an apple orchard. Visit my post, Happy Under the Apple Boughs: Carl Laidlaw Orchards, for a glimpse of what this beautiful orchard has to offer.


Carl Laidlaw Orchards

Enjoy the fall colours, sunshine, and fresh air. Pick your own apples; come home with rosy cheeks and a bounty of apples.


Learn the proper way to pick an apple so you don’t damage next year’s crop. Ripe apples separate easily from the stem; gently lift the bottom of the apple up towards the sky and twist gently, so you don’t remove any of the branch (and next year’s apple) from the tree. Make sure to thank the farmer before leaving.


Thank you, Mark Laidlaw (Carl Laidlaw Orchards).

Contact your local orchard to find out what fruit is ready to pick (they ripen at different times). It’s a good idea to review their farm etiquette before visiting.

For a list of local orchards in your area, visit:

Grown in Peel:

Grown in Halton:

My local favourites are listed on my farm directory but call the orchard directly for updated hours of operation for 2015.

Read More

Local Heroes: Eden Food for Change Fresh Produce Boxes

Local heroes, Eden Food for Change, buy fresh produce directly from farmers and vendors at the Ontario Food Terminal and sell it at cost in our community. Their goal: make fresh fruits and vegetables more accessible and affordable to all socio-economic brackets.

Strong relationships with farmers and vendors (who often sell the same produce to local grocery stores) have made it possible for Eden Food for Change (EFFC) to buy in bulk at good prices. Weekly trips are made to the Ontario Food Terminal to fill the boxes that have been ordered the night before. Back at EFFC, volunteers separate the food out into individual boxes, deliver them weekly to several locations throughout our community, and sell them at cost. Two box sizes are available: $10/small and $20/large. From a $10 box, $9 covers the cost of the food and $1 covers the operation expenses. Any extra food goes to the food bank.

Christina Philips (Community Engagement Coordinator at EFFC) added, “All of the items for the Fresh Produce Box program are bought specifically for those who have ordered. However, our Warehouse Supervisor goes down to the Ontario Food Terminal later and asks for produce donations for our Food Bank.”

Click on the link to find out locations and pick up times throughout Mississauga. Follow the instructions and use the order form on this link to e-mail your order every week, before Thursday at 4:00 pm. Pick up your box on Fridays at the time scheduled for the location you chose.

I am so happy to hear that there is a location in the village of Streetsville, right in the party room of the apartment building at 4 Caroline Street. Fresh produce is back in the village and within reach of our seniors. Thank you, Eden Food for Change!

Questions: [email protected]

Eden Food for Change (formerly Eden Community Food Bank)
2-3185 Unity Drive
Mississauga, Ontario L5L 4L5
Monday – Friday 9 am – 5 pm
Phone: (905) 785-3651

Read More

A Visual Feast: Edible Flowers

I thought I’d share a little inspiration with you – some photos of edible flower ideas that I have collected and pinned to my Olive Edible Flowers board on Pinterest. I haven’t tried the recipes yet but the photos give me an idea of how I can use edible flowers in my own cooking.


They inspired me to add flowers from my garden to a simple tomato mozzarella salad I saw on a Barefoot Contessa episode, prepared by a California chef. I think the yellow pansies look so pretty against the orange and red wedges of heirloom tomatoes. I love the casualness of the torn pieces of fresh mozzarella tucked in between the tomatoes. I didn’t have time to make the basil-infused olive oil they used on the show, so I drizzled the salad with my best extra-virgin olive oil and added whole basil leaves for drama and ease. I thought a jolt of black and a touch of saltiness would be nice, so I scattered on a few sundried black olives (you can find them at Adonis or Longo’s – check my grocery store directory for locations). Don’t forget to season with salt and pepper.

Here is a taste of some of the many pins I have collected on my board. Click on the photo/link and you will be directed to the original site for recipes or instructions. If you try any of them please let me know how they worked out for you.


Spring Bouquet Popsicles by Marla Meridith

I am definitely going to try the recipe for these darling Spring Bouquet Popsicles filled with pretty blossoms and flavoured with orange blossom water (I have the fondest memories of orange blossom water en Provence). What a sweet idea for a birthday party. I just love the messages that are handwritten on the popsicle sticks (click the link to see the full post and recipe). The recipe would make lovely ice cubes too. Thanks to Marla Meridith for permission to share her gorgeous photo and recipe from


Zucchini Blossom Mini Quiches from

How about these adorable Zucchini Blossom Mini Quiches from  Wouldn’t these be perfect for a baby shower? Thanks to Emma Dime for permission to share her stunning photo and recipe.


Zucchini Flowers from Hutchinson Farm

Look at these beautiful zucchini blossoms from Hutchinson Farm in Burlington (thanks for permission to share your photo, David). Find out why they are picked to order at dawn (call a day ahead), plus helpful tips here. Hutchinson Farm suggests using them in cheese quesadillas. I saw a great recipe for Squash Blossom Quesadillas on one of my favourite cooking shows, Pati’s Mexican Table, and have pinned the recipe to my Olive Edible Flowers Pinterest board, along with stuffed zucchini blossom recipes. Zucchini and pumpkin blossoms will be ready at Hutchinson Farm in Burlington near the end of July. In May, Hutchinson Farm also sells nasturtiums which David says are “an awesome edible flower”.  Contact Hutchinson Farm for more information.

Last summer, I found zucchini blossoms at Mississauga Central Farmers` Market. And Longo`s carries zucchini blossoms when in season (soon) and can get edible flowers in pretty much all year round. If you don’t see them in the produce section, speak to the Produce Manager; he may be able to order them in for you.

Your own garden can be a great source for edible flowers; just be sure they are organic and verify they are edible by checking with a reliable source before serving them.

To visit my other Pinterest boards and see all the inspirational photos and recipes I have collected, click here.

Hutchinson Farm
6202 Walkers Line,
Burlington, ON L7M 0R3
Telephone: 905-335-2515
Family-owned and operated farm. All grown in their fields or greenhouses, using best tasting varieties. Ready-picked at peak ripeness or pick your own. Wide range of field crops, herbs, and annual flowers.

Read More

Georgetown Farmers’ Market: Olive It!

I adore Georgetown Farmers’ Market. It is a vibrant, bustling farmers’ market that runs right down the middle of scenic Main Street in historic downtown Georgetown, Ontario.


The market offers plenty of fresh, seasonal produce from some of my favourite local farmers, such as Allison’s Farm Market (who are literally located just down the road). I love everything from Allison’s; I am crazy about their corn, which they expect will be ready mid-July.


Andrews’ Scenic Acres, another one of my favourites, brings in their delicious produce from their farm in Halton Hills. The air around this booth was perfumed with the sweet fragrance of these juicy strawberries. Mmm, I could be happy with a baguette, a wedge of St. Andre’s cheese, a basket of cherries, and a shady spot to share at a river’s edge.


There is lots of really good baking, including butter tarts from Andrews’ Scenic Acres and fruit strudel from The Strudel Lady.


Even the Glen Oven Tea Room gets into the spirit and spills out onto the sidewalk with their scones, cookies, and artisanal bread. A friend told me their Whole Wheat Muesli – a breakfast bread with raisins, cranberries, walnuts, and sunflower seeds – is “sooo delicious”. My son loves their Hearty Seed bread so much, he polished off a loaf in one day (we do feed him regularly, I promise).


Georgetown Farmers’ Market is the only market west of Toronto where I can find Toronto-based Saha International Cuisine products (though they are available at a few stores in the region). Made following traditional recipes, Saha’s sauces and marinades are all-natural, additive-free, preservative-free, gluten-free, trans fat-free, and cholesterol free.


Mixed with a bit of yogurt their Shish Taouk marinade yields succulent, flavourful chicken (I use boneless, skinless chicken thighs). Thai Red Curry is a warm, fragrant base for a delicious chicken stir fry; simmer with some coconut milk for a little taste of heaven – Thai style.


Here’s another reason why I love Georgetown Farmers’ Market. There is a great little butcher shop, McMaster’s Meats & Deli, right beside the market on Main Street. Old fashioned butcher, friendly service, great range of fresh meats, deli meats (they cook their own preservative-free beef, turkey, pork, and ham), and gourmet products. Their Stuffed Chicken Breasts are wonderful.

McMasters Georgetown

And midway through the market, just a couple of steps down a side street, is the fabulous Mill Street Cheese Market. Read why I love this pretty little fromagerie here. Be sure to stroll in on market day for samples of their wonderful products. Pick up some cheese and bread to go along with those cherries and you’ve got the makings of a great picnic.


Georgetown Farmers’ Market

Every Saturday, from 8:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., June 7th to October 18th, 2014.

Located on Main Street South between Church Street and James Street, in historic downtown Georgetown (Halton Hills). Please note: the East lane is empty because the Fire Department requires a Fire Lane for access to buildings and quick response routes. DO NOT BLOCK the lane for any reason or amount of time. You can be ticketed.

Read More